Developing an Inner Listening to God

Examination (Examen) of Consciousness

(From Ignatius of Loyola adapted by Norm Shawchuck revised by Floyd/Joyce Grunau)

  1. HOW DID I SEE THE MOVEMENT OF GOD IN MY LIFE?

Thank you Jesus for being near me. I ask you Holy Spirit to help me see clearly where you have been at work in my life. Show me where I have pleased you and brought joy to your heart.

 

Thank you Father for loving me by…  (Write down where you are aware of God moving in your life, loving you, using you during the day or week.)

 

  1. HOW DID I FAIL TO RESPOND TO GOD’S LOVE FOR ME?

Thank you Jesus for being with me even when I struggle and don’t listen well. Show me where I have failed to see you at work today, where I have missed something by failing to respond to your love and where I have been wrong in my attitudes, actions, words and motives. Give me godly sorrow so I can confess my sins openly and honestly to you with a repentant spirit.

 

I’m sorry Jesus for failing you by…  (Write down the sins you have committed including what you have failed to do that you knew God was wanting you to do.)

 

I’m sorry Lord for failing to respond to your love, for my failures and sins. Thank you for forgiving me and cleansing me from these sins I have confessed and for restoring me into fellowship with you. Thank you for the gift of your love which I can never earn. Show me what changes need to be made in my life and which one now.

  1. WHAT AM I SENSING GOD IS SAYING HE WANTS TO DO IN/THROUGH ME?

I sense Spirit of God you want me to…. (As you wait in God’s presence, write down the thoughts that he seems to give you about what you are to do or not do for the immediate future. Notice how you are responding to what you sense God is saying for what lies ahead. Are you feeling fearful, anxious, peaceful, angry, hope-filled, undecided, joyful, confused, excited? Express your honest response to God and invite him to speak his truth into it.)

 

Note:  For best results, the above exercise should be done regularly—on a daily basis or at least weekly. Keeping these prayers/thoughts in a notebook helps to remind you of what God is doing in your life and what he wants to do. The examined life is worth living!

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Mercy

Mercy. What emotions does that word trigger for you? A feeling of comfort? A sense of guilt? Joy?  Numbness?  Pity for millions of people starving overseas? Desire to show more mercy for people who need it?

What does it look like to enjoy the mercy of God? Do you feel gratitude for what you don’t deserve? Do you understand intellectually what it is but can’t say you appreciate it at a heart level? Is mercy a cheap excuse to take God for granted and live as you like? If we are not enjoying mercy, then maybe we are blocking it.

Jesus once told a story about two men who entered the temple to pray. The religious leader thanked God for what a good law abiding citizen he was. He didn’t live a corrupt and dishonest life like the tax collector he saw across the room. The tax collector, on the other hand, was looking down, beating his chest in deep sorrow as he prayed, O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.

Jesus went on to declare that mercy is for people who humble themselves and not for those who have a proud heart. It is for those who admit they are sinners and know there is no hope that they can help themselves. It is for those who confess their powerlessness and guilt and long for transformation. They know how easy it is to live selfishly; to put themselves forward while putting others down.

If we are Christ followers, then we have experienced his mercy. When we openly and honestly confessed our sins, Jesus responded by forgiving us and granting us new life and power to live for him. There was no doubt in our minds that we did not deserve mercy. Yet we still came to God as we were—in our weakness and sins and received his mercy and grace.

What are some ways we may still be blocking God’s mercy at some level? Our culture says that we can do anything we want to do as long as we set our minds on it and work hard. That is the opposite of the posture that’s necessary to receive God’s mercy. It is by admitting our spiritual weakness and inability that we are made strong by his power at work within us.

Another blockage is failing to keep coming to God for his mercy. I have found that I need to continue praying as the tax collector, Lord Jesus, be merciful to me, a sinner. I need to pray this way every time I wander off the Jesus way. It may be a selfish act, a sinful thought, words that hurt or put myself forward. The way back is the way of confession. Jesus, I need your mercy again. Forgive me for my sin. He always does. Immediately. And I find myself back in full fellowship with my Lord.

We also block God’s mercy when we try and earn God’s love. We think that we need to change ourselves. We need to present a better version of ourselves to God so he will be inclined to accept us or love us more. We make efforts to eliminate bad habits, pray more diligently, be more kind to people. We have this false idea that we somehow need to impress God.

All good actions, for us as Christ followers, flow out of a life that has already received and experienced his mercy and grace. We are motivated by Jesus’ amazing love for us at the cross! Sharing his love with family and friends and strangers comes out of a heart transformed by God’s mercy and love. Receiving his mercy on a daily basis enables us to pass on that undeserved mercy. And that gives us inner joy and peace, knowing we are humbly doing what most matters to God—expressing the heart of Jesus to whoever comes across our path.                                                                                –Floyd Grunau

 

 

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Being Attentive to Jesus

Learning to be attentive to Jesus and his ways is a process. It begins each morning as we rise and lift our heart to him. Then, during the experiences of the day we learn to connect to the Lord–asking for guidance, thanking him for his love, moving forward with faith.

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